How I Stay on Task (Plus a Giveaway!)—CLOSED GIVEAWAY

 

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As an entrepreneur, I’ve spent the past several years mastering how to juggle many jobs and tasks at once. If I’m being honest, this wrangling act of taking on a lot has always been my M.O.  In high school and college, I was the one constantly raising my hand to lead all the fundraisers and projects, generally worked at least one part-time job if not two, then was hardcore about my homework and color coding all my notes. Somewhere in my adolescence I realized I like to keep my plate full, that some nerdy part of me actually thrived on the challenge of balancing it all and wearing a lot of hats. But, as many of you know, whether your stack of responsibilities is wide or deep it can all go haywire very quickly if you’re not careful: getting off task for an hour quickly turns into a whole afternoon, which avalanches into a couple days of unproductiveness. And that can really set you back, not to mention overwhelm you.

This need to carefully manage your time is the ultimate trick to productivity and reaching your goals, which I’ve had to perfect when working for myself. When you are your own boss, no one is mandating deadlines or giving you directions on how to do things, and if you don’t have a good system in place to set each day/week/month up for success, you can quickly get burnt out. And I know these challenges aren’t unique to the self-employed; this feeling of having too much to do, not enough time to get it done, and the struggle to keep up with it all can plague just about anyone in any industry.

So what’s the answer? I wanted to share what works for me in hopes that it might be a good guide for others. And what works for me is organization my friends. Freaking organization. And let me say it loud enough for those of your in the back: LISTS ARE YOUR FRIEND! (Maybe even my best friend.)

→ On that note, I’ve got an awesome prize for one of you: I’ll be giving away one of the main tools I’ve been using to stay on task, stay focused and organized, and to get my ish done: the butcher paper studio roller. Because working smarter > working harder/longer.

So make sure to enter our giveaway at the end of this post! (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)

The Big Picture

I love having this George & Willy Studio Roller hanging above my desk: it comes with a roll of butcher paper, which I’ve used to list all my broader overarching goals for the month. Listing these out in a prominent spot in the office and keeping them front-and-center over my work station every morning goes a long way in constantly reminding me of what exactly I’m working towards for the month. (I also stick important dates, special notes, motivating quotes and pretty photos that are inspiring me throughout the month up on there. It’s a motivational moodboard of sorts!)

I’m a massive advocate of putting pen to paper as a powerful tool to get things done…and little is more satisfying then putting a big ole check mark next to a task or goal once it’s done!

Setting aside 20 deliberate minutes at the beginning of every moth to list out specific goals not only gives me an intentional start to the month, but also gives me landmarks to look back on at the end of the month to see what goals I achieved, surpassed, or didn’t quite meet. Having them prominently displayed in my office keeps it all at the top of my mind and keeps me focused and motivated! I can then regroup at the end of the month and take note of what worked and didn’t work when I sit down as I set new goals for the next month.

The Nitty Gritty

I don’t stop at just monthly goals though. Two other powerful tools come into play on a day to day basis for me: my planner, and a grid lined notebook.

On my planner, I use a week-at-a-glance type layout where I write out all the appointments, meetings, and any scheduled out goals. The notebook I use to create a very detailed to-do list for each day. That’s right guys: an itemized and detailed checklist of every little thing I need to accomplish EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

That might sound excessive to you, but it WORKS. This detailed list is an intense breakdown of every little thing I need to get done, in both personal and business life, and keeps me checking back in on the list several times throughout the day to mark off what I’ve accomplished and look at what I have left.

For those of you who are super type-A like me, this is basically my own personal modification of The Bullet Journal method (please tell me in the comments if you get sick pleasure out of watching that video like I do, haha. #typeanerdsunite!)

All of those lists ultimately work together, and this large mounted roller on the wall with overall month goals has been so so good to have: it showcases the tangible landmarks I want to hit but also serves as a sort of mantra for the month, a visual inspiration board of exactly what I want to achieve in 30 days. While I’m detailing out to-dos much more specifically in my planner and notebook, this large-scale at-a-glance look at my goals steers me back in the direction of contextualizing all my small tasks into the bigger picture. I deliberately limit the goals to four or five succinct bullet points in large handwriting to keep what’s written digest-able and inspiring, rather than overwhelming or anxiety inducing. And I love that I can tack on pretty and meaningful tidbits throughout the month, from printouts of my favorite pins on Pinterest, to any special things I get in the mail, or fabric swatches from any projects I’m working on. And just when it starts to get stale and no longer motivates me, I just pull the roll down, tear off the sheet, and start over!

The Giveaway!

(CLOSED)

Now let’s circle back to the exciting part for all of you: George & Willy is generously offering up one of these exact same Studio Rollers to one lucky giveaway winner! You can choose from the white or black wall mount, and they will ship to anyone worldwide — which means this giveaway is open to everyone! There are several ways to enter and you have one full week to enter as many times as you want up via the methods listed below until midnight EST Monday, September 24th. I will draw a name at random and announce the winner here and on Instagram next Tuesday, September 25th.

WAYS TO EARN ENTRIES: (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)

  • Leave a comment here on the blog = two entries

  • Leave a comment on my Instagram announcement photo = two entries

  • Like the Instagram photo of giveaway announcement = one entry

  • Tag friends on the Instagram announcement photo = one entry for each friend tagged

 

Alright, so enter away! Let me know how you stay on task and if you feel like this lovely craft paper roller would help you do so. Or if list making isn’t your thing, tell me how else you’d use this studio roller in your home 🙂 Can’t wait to hear your thoughts and ideas!

(GIVEAWAY CLOSED: WINNER IS @MILESYEUNG)

A little bit about George & Willy: they are a three-person team based out of New Zealand who design and hand-craft every one of their pieces. They focus on creating problem-solving products that serve both form and function, so not only are their pieces thoughtful, beautiful, and minimal, but they are ethically made with love. I was gifted their Studio Roller but all thoughts and opinions are my own. I only partner with makers and brands I truly love, support, and genuinely want to share with you all! And psst: if you can’t wait to see if you’ve won the giveaway, signing up for their newsletter gets you $10 off your first order! 

 

  1. Megan

    September 17th, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Love this! I use a day planner too and find that if I highlight three “must-dos” per day, I’m much more likely to stay on track. I hadn’t thought about using a giant roll of paper to highlight overall monthly goals but this idea seems so practical! Since it can be stylized and added to, it can also become a part of the decor and set the tone/vibes for your space!
    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Mary

    September 17th, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Exactly, I love that you can make the board much more appealing than just a written list by tacking on pretty visuals – and I love your idea of prioritizing three bullets a day. I find a mix of detailed lists and prioritized shorter lists are best at keeping me on track without overwhelming me! Thanks for entering Megan! xo

  3. Cindy

    September 17th, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Great post! I love the idea of having tasks so visible. Thanks for having the giveaway. Here’s to hoping I win!!!

  4. Mary

    September 17th, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Good luck Cindy! xoxo

  5. Christine

    September 17th, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    I’ve been looking into alternatives to the standard dry erase board. This would go perfectly with my decor.

  6. Mary

    September 19th, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    Good luck Christine, thanks for entering! xo

  7. Irene

    September 17th, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    I love this! It would go perfectly with my flower bar!

  8. Mary

    September 19th, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    Ohh, I could totally see this at a flower bar — even if to use the butcher paper to wrap bouquets! Good luck 🙂 xo

  9. Joanna

    September 17th, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    I resonate so much with what you said about your high school days!! Always taking up any project even if it meant being so drained of energy at the end of the day (that introvert life!) I’ve always been a to-do list kind of gal and this roller would be the perfect piece in my space to help me with organizing the launch my new business! Thanks for the giveaway Mary!

  10. Mary

    September 19th, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    haha, hello there kindred spirit! List makers gonna list, ya know? Good luck, I think this would be super helpful keeping things organized and inspiring for you as you start a new biz! xo

  11. Cameron Yost

    September 17th, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    As a former roomie I can personally attest to all mentions of color coded notes, running the world, etc. as 100% truth! Now as an entrepreneur myself, I need to channel my inner Mary more than ever – thanks for the great tips!

  12. Mary

    September 19th, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Haha, oh goodness girl, you would DEF be a full witness to my nerding out over color-coded notes and how giddy I got about sitting front row in classes. But you were just as much a badass girl, you were (and are!) my Leslie Knope! xoxo

  13. Jane Anderson

    September 17th, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    Yay! Mamas need this major! Everything we keep in our head needs to get out on paper sometimes especially to help you realize when it’s too muchhhhh and why not make it pretty and fun!!!! You’re inspiring sister! Xo

  14. Mary

    September 19th, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Ohhh Janie, you would do such cool things with this — and it would be so fun for Lylie and Jack to doodle and paint on too! xoxo

  15. Courtney

    September 18th, 2018 at 4:47 am

    I am SUCH a pen and paper gal and I love how easily this can edited and physically crossed off. Also, love how you styled it!

  16. Mary

    September 19th, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Thanks so much Courtney! There is something to writing out lists and calendars that just doesn’t translate to digital version for me. Good luck!! xo

  17. Sandy

    September 18th, 2018 at 5:20 am

    Love these ideas! I started a new job that has daily and weekly goals with lots of moving parts, so this will help keep me motivated and on track!

  18. Mary

    September 19th, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Jobs like that are great at how they keep you on your toes, but you def need to stay organized when there are a ton of moving parts! This sounds like it’d be an awesome solution for ya…good luck! xo

  19. Brittany

    September 18th, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Thanks for sharing. I recently condensed my all my calendar “tools” (planners, whiteboard, sticky notes etc) into a new little system— it really does feel good to get organized. Thank you for the opportunity to win this lovely tool, too.

  20. Mary

    September 19th, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Thanks for entering — good luck! xo

  21. Kari

    September 18th, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    So delighted to hop on your gorgeous blog! I am so on team motivational mood boards!!! You totally set the bar for how I need to use my time. Working for two small business (part cough full time) and running my own small business it gets really fuzzy fast. Motivational moodboards are giving me a pep in my step already! Lots of love 💗

  22. Mary

    September 19th, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    Dang girl, it sounds like you’ve got quite the full plate, way to hustle! Thanks for entering, good luck!! xo

  23. Emily

    September 22nd, 2018 at 9:15 am

    Love this!! I overuse the notes app on my phone but then never look at the notes I leave (just deleted a few hundred this week-eek!!). This feels much more practical!

  24. Mary

    September 22nd, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I’ve tried and tried and tried again to find a digital method that works for me, but nothing beats pen and paper in my opinion. Good luck! Xoxo

  25. Randi

    September 24th, 2018 at 10:43 am

    I love my lists and being able to cross things off of them. It’s so much more necessary now that mom brain is in full effect.

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